10 Burning Questions About the Inquirer‘s New Nonprofit Ownership

Gerry Lenfest enters Tuesday's ownership announcement at the National Constitution Center | Joel Mathis for Philly Mag.

Gerry Lenfest enters Tuesday’s ownership announcement at the National Constitution Center. Photo | Joel Mathis

Three themes emerged from Tuesday morning’s formal announcement that Philadelphia Media Network — owner of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — is being placed under the ownership of a new non-profit institute.

First: The new ownership structure will halt the revolving-door ownership that has afflicted the company with five different ownership groups over the last decade or so. That, in turn, should provide stability for a news organization that has been mired in chaos and, at times, bankruptcy during that time.

“It is, I think, a perfect combination for the future of journalism in Philadelphia,” said Gerry Lenfest, who created the nonprofit — the Institute for Journalism in New Media (IJNM) — and “donated” the papers to it.

Second: The non-profit structure will make it easier for the papers to seek financial sustainability by attracting grant funding to help pay for their journalism.

And third: There’s still a lot of work to be done to figure out how to make large-scale journalism pay for itself in the 21st century. Today’s announcement doesn’t preclude the possibility that there could be layoffs at the papers later this year if advertising revenues continue to decline.

In the short term, PMN publisher Terry Egger said, the new ownership structure “doesn’t solve our problems.” Richard Fox, the Dilworth Paxson attorney who oversaw the arrangements, added: “This is not a short-term measure. It’s a long-term measure.”

So what does the new ownership structure do? We’ll try to answer the biggest questions raised by this situation based on public documents and discussions with various officials involved in the transaction, including Egger and Fox. Read more »

Lenfest “Donates” Philly Newspapers to New Nonprofit Media Foundation

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers sit on display on a newsstand in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers sit on display on a newsstand in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gerry Lenfest has created a nonprofit foundation to own Philadelphia Media Network — the company that owns the Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com — and endowed the new institute with $20 million as it oversees the newspapers’ continued operation.

The move places the papers under the auspices of the Philadelphia Foundation, transforming the biggest news operation in America’s fifth-largest city into an unprecedented experiment in preserving large-scale newsgathering in the fast-changing — and fast-diminishing — newspaper industry.

The news was first reported Monday night at Philly.com. A formal announcement will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the National Constitution Center.

“I think it’s unprecedented for a big American newspaper to be turned into a nonprofit,” Rosental C. Alves, Director of Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, told Philly Mag late Monday night. Read more »

“Gerry the Grinch” Website Receives Cease-and-Desist Letter

gerry lenfest parody site

It would appear the fake Gerry Lenfest has the real Gerry Lenfest’s attention.

In the aftermath of the layoffs at Philadelphia Media Network — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — an anonymous critic created the “Gerry the Grinch” Twitter account, and posted longer-form missives at GerryLenfest.com, both criticizing (and sometimes pleading with) Lenfest for the job reductions. Now a lawyer from PMN has sent the site’s owner a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that website’s domain name be transferred to the ownership of Lenfest himself.

The letter was posted Thursday afternoon at the Twitter account.

Read more »

“Gerry the Grinch” Parody Takes Aim at Newspaper Layoffs

A website and Twitter account dubbing Gerry Lenfest a “grinch” hope to persuade — or maybe just embarrass — the owner of Philly’s biggest news organization to reverse recent layoffs. Read more »

Gerry Lenfest Awards $1,000 Bonuses to Philly Newspaper Workers*

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest speaks at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | Matt Rourke/AP

Here’s the good news: If you work for the Inquirer, Daily News, or Philly.com, Gerry Lenfest is going to give you $1,000.

The not-so-thrilling news? If you’re a member of the Newspaper Guild, you won’t see any of that money in cash. Instead, it’ll go to help pay for your health insurance costs.

“As negotiated by their leadership, in lieu of the $1,000 bonus being paid to the Guild’s individual members, a payment of $1,000 for each Guild member is being made to that union’s (health and welfare) plan,” Lenfest said in a Wednesday afternoon email announcing the bonus. Read more »

(Update) Lenfest Vows to Publish If Journos Strike

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

(Updated at 7:08 p.m. with Newspaper Guild response.)

The man who owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com vowed Thursday to keep publishing if journalists and other workers at those organizations go on strike.

“In the event of a strike, we remain committed to continuing to operate both digitally and in print and will continue to take the steps necessary to address the significant economic challenges that face us and our industry,” Gerry Lenfest, the publisher and owner of Philadelphia Media Network, said in a memorandum distributed to PMN’s employees. Read more »

Lenfest Announces Profit-Sharing for Inquirer, Daily News Workers

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest told workers at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com they will receive a profit-sharing check. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Full-time employees of the city’s two major daily newspapers will receive a $903 profit-sharing check, publisher Gerry Lenfest said in a memorandum today. But the seemingly good news quickly became a point of contention in the negotiations between management and the union that represents the company’s journalists.

Interstate General Media — the parent company of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — has gone to mediation in its negotiations on a new contract with the Newspaper Guild, the union that represents journalists at all three shops. The guild says the company is asking for concessions that could cost each employee thousands of dollars apiece. Read more »

Historic Philadelphia Honors Ed Rendell, Gerry Lenfest and Karen Butler

rendell-historic-philadelphia-940x540

Last Wednesday, Historic Philadelphia Inc honored Governor Ed Rendell, Gerry Lenfest, Karen Butler, the William Penn Foundation and PECO. The evening convened at the Historic Philadelphia Center at Sixth and Chestnut streets, at 5:30 p.m. Following cocktails, guests moved to Independence Hall, where they experienced a scene from Historic Philadelphia’s Independence After Hours tour with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams arguing about who should write the Declaration of Independence. From there, guests headed to City Tavern to enjoy Chef Walter Staib’s authentic Revolutionary-era recipes. Historic Philadelphia, Inc. will be hosting its seventh annual “An Evening in Franklin Square” presented by Parx Casino on Thursday, May 14th.
Photos after the jump »

Philadelphia Finally Gets a Veterans Parade

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Believe it or not, Philadelphia did not have an official Veterans Parade until now.

That’s right: The city where American democracy got its start did not have a citywide parade to honor its veterans. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, philanthropist/Inquirer owner H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, City Council President Darrell Clarke, City Councilman David Oh and other city officials announced Wednesday morning that that will change this year.

Read more »

« Older Posts